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Fenlands (Flood Protection)

Volume 439: debated on Monday 30 June 1947

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asked the Minister of Agriculture whether a scheme for flood protection of the Fenlands has now been prepared; when it can be commenced; and what financial assistance will be given by His Majesty's Government.

I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the scheme for the prevention of flooding in the lowland section of the River Great Ouse Catchment Area. Such a scheme was prepared and received my Department's approval in principle in 1942, and a grant of 75 per cent. of the estimated cost of £2,200,000 was offered, but because of the war it was not possible for the Catchment Board to proceed. The scheme will shortly be re-submitted to my Department, but, from lessons learnt during the recent floods, certain revisions in the scheme have proved necessary. A preliminary discussion took place last week between my Department and representatives of the Catchment Board. The scheme will take at least seven years to complete. The offer of a 75 per cent. grant to the Board toward the cost of the earlier scheme which was made in 1942 holds good. The rate of grant on the cost of the revised scheme over and above the original amount needs further and fuller consideration. This will be given as soon as full particulars of the engineering involved have been received and examined.

Will my right hon. Friend ensure that the surplus water which it is sought to prevent going over the land, is used usefully for the purpose of water supplies and also for other industrial purposes.

I think, perhaps, that is a dual problem to be dealt with by the National Water Committee as well as by the drainage authorities.